1 Discussion Summary
State Agencies Administering WtW Vouchers
(Teleconference Roundtable held August 15, 2002)
(Five of Eight State Agencies Participating -- see Profile
of State Agencies for more information about the eight state agencies
administering WTW vouchers.)
- Alaska Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC)
- Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS)
- Massachusetts Department of Housing & Community Development
- Michigan State Housing Development Agency (MSHDA)
- Virginia Housing Development Agency (VHDA)
State Agency Challenges and Tips for Success
- High turnover rates. AHFC,
in particular, reports high turnover rates and is taking action
to improve the situation. In Alaska, approximately 45 percent
of total vouchers leased have turned over. AHFC estimates that
about 61 percent of that turnover results from negative events,
such as failure to meet Section 8 requirements or abandonment
100 percent of units (and maintaining 100 percent utilization)
while simultaneously running other aspects of the program, such
as case management, tracking and monitoring, and maintaining
partnerships. MDHCD noted that this is particularly challenging
in a state that has both a tight job market and housing market.
Tips for Success:
- Analyze turnover to understand
the various reasons (positive and negative) that families leave
the program, as the first step in attempting to address this issue.
AHFC has modified its selection criteria in an attempt to address
- Having clear, written policies
and procedures covering all aspects of the WtW program in place
for staff and contractors to rely on ultimately helps an agency
to lease more quickly and stay leased.
- Staff turnover. Staff turnover often means that the WtW program
is "put on the back burner," hindering an agency's ability
to run a high-performing program.
- Converting to a new housing software program and resolving PIC/MTCS
- Centralized versus decentralized management of the WtW voucher
program. VHDA noted that it is the only state agency that allows
its contracting agencies to develop individual policies related
to selection criteria, family obligations, etc.
Tips for Success:
- Get the most out of your partnerships. AHFC is finalizing a
revised MOU with its TANF partner. The role of the TANF Agency
in implementing the program has changed significantly since the
program's inception, and the MOU has been revised to reflect this.
- Maintain a high level of coordination. MDHCD requires that
contracting agencies report monthly. CDHS is trying to establish
standardized processes and a uniform tracking system for its seven
Monitoring and Tracking
- Tracking participant status when an agency covers a broad geographic
area and relies on contractors or regional offices to administer
the program. CDHS partners with 7 different organizations to provide
services to their WtW clients. The agency wants to develop
a method for uniform tracking among the different organizations.
- Measuring success of participants and of the program as a whole.
Tips for Success:
- Request monthly updates from all contracting agencies/regional
offices. Establish a standard set of data to collect each month,
so that trends and progress can be determined. MDHCD requires
its contracting agencies to report the following information monthly:
leasing data, including the number of new lease-ups and terminations;
status of all WtW participants, including whether they are working,
searching for employment, participating in job training, or not
in compliance; number of families participating in FSS; and size
of their waiting list.
- Place some of the burden for monitoring and tracking directly
on the WtW families themselves. MDHCD asks recipients to "self-report"
either monthly or quarterly on their progress. The contracting
agency mails forms out to all recipients and then asks that the
forms be completed and returned. If forms are not returned, the
agency begins sending a series of warning letters (of increasing
severity) to individuals that are not in compliance with program
requirements or who fail to self-report.
Family Obligations/Work Requirements
- Establishing and fully implementing standardized processes and
procedures for monitoring adherence to WtW family obligations
and enforcing such obligations.
- Enforcing work requirements/WtW Contract of Participation in
such a way that encourages families to obtain and retain employment.
Agencies are seeing high rates of job-turnover among participants
and are looking for ways to support families that lose jobs.
Tips for Success:
- Make sure that participants know before receiving a WtW voucher
that WORK is required to keep their assistance, and continue to
remind them of the importance of obtaining and retaining employment.
MDHCD emphasizes work requirements prior to issuance, during the
briefing, and at every re-exam. In addition, the self-reporting
mentioned above reinforces the work requirements.
- Provide enough time for participants to get prepared for work,
search for work, and finally obtain work. AHFC's WtW program
is structured such that work requirements gradually increase over
time in order to allow participants plenty of opportunity to succeed
at meeting their work requirements. At the participants' first
annual re-exam, the voucher recipient is not expected to be working
full-time but to be, at a minimum, participating in some type
of job training. At each re-exam thereafter the work expectations
gradually increase and culminate into retaining full-time employment.
Case Management and FSS
- Expanding FSS so more WtW families can participate. Some agencies
lack the resources to hire the additional case managers/FSS Coordinators
that would be needed to support an expanded program.
- Families "falling through the cracks" due to inadequate
case management. The concern is that there are families in need
of case management that are not being serviced by the TANF agency
or through FSS. The number of families not being serviced by TANF
agencies will continue to grow. AHFC suggested that there may
be a connection between families leaving the program for negative
reasons and families not receiving adequate case management and
Tips for Success:
- Support families at the onset of their participation in the
program. AHFC is beginning to send its TANF partner the names
of the families selected to receive a WtW voucher. This allows
the TANF agency to contact these families to see if they need
childcare, transportation, or other assistance.
- Use former FSS participants with FSS success stories to sell
the FSS program to WtW voucher families. Their endorsement of
the program is far more effective than flyers or other marketing.
Requests for HUD
- Provide guidance as to how WtW staff should define "willful
and persistent," "success," and "graduation."
A discussion followed regarding the need for each agency to clearly
define what these terms mean to its program. The definitions will
likely vary from agency to agency and should be clearly stated
by each agency in writing.
- Provide training program, policy manual, etc. that presents
program basics for WtW Coordinators.
- Communicate the goals of the WtW program to managers at the
highest levels of partner organizations, such as state TANF agencies.
Clarify HUD's expectations of agencies that partner with a PHA
to administer a WtW voucher program.
- Agencies that have received significant support from their TANF
partner, including funds to support the program, believe that
their programs would not be successful without such support. What
can HUD do to help ensure continued support for the program by